ONC Responds to HIE Criticism with Grants

Scott Mace, April 8, 2013

The federal Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, stung by a negative report on health informati on exchanges (HIEs) last month, responded last week, handing out nearly a half million dollars to spur private efforts in the area.

ONC awarded DirectTrust and the EHR/HIE Interoperability Workgroup (IWG)each Exemplar HIE Governance Program Cooperative Agreements to continue to support their work advancing the governance of health information exchange.

"We will work closely with each of these entities and their partners to develop policies, interoperability requirements, and business practices that align with national priorities, overcome interoperability challenges, and reduce implementation costs," says Claudia Williams, director of ONC's State Health Information Exchange Program.

Williams says the grants provide ONC the opportunity to urge its many partners, including providers, vendors, and HIE initiatives across the nation, to participate in fledgling HIE governance initiatives, now that the ONC has decided not to take the levers of such governance for itself—at least for now.

ONC's support for DirectTrust will fund continued development and implementation of its accreditation program for health information service providers (designated as HISPs), developed in partnership with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), a nonprofit standards development organization and accrediting body.

"The purpose of DirectTrust is to help support Directed Exchange," says David Kibbe, MD, president and CEO of DirectTrust. "Directed Exchange in turn is a means of inter-vendor, standards-based exchange of health information that is designed to overcome the barriers of organization and IT platforms that have really significantly impeded interoperability and exchanges of health information for as long as most of us have been working in this field."

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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